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A Defense of Brian Sabean

June 3, 2011

Contrary to what is probably good advice, I’m going to add another few hundred words to the already ridiculous pile surrounding Brian Sabean’s comments on Buster Posey and Scott Cousins. What else is a blog for, after all?

One thing, go listen to the actual interview on KNBR. Don’t just read this, or the 140 character tweets, or Andrew Baggarly’s partial transcript, or the million and one columns out there. That’s not fair to Sabean, or the Giants, or Buster Posey.

Now here goes…

****** ******* ******

I feel awful for Scott Cousins. He’s 26, he’s barely in the majors, and he badly injured the star player of the team he grew up rooting for while scoring the go-ahead run for his own team. To bring things a little closer to home for me, he grew up about an hour from where I did. If for whatever strange reason, I was one day to have a conversation with him, we could probably talk about local restaurants and the best ways to avoid what counts for traffic in northern Nevada.

At the same time, I don’t want anything to do with him. I don’t want to hear about him, or see tweets about him, or see him play. I don’t care if he does play, I don’t care if he makes the Hall of Fame, but I’d prefer he do it in the American League while bouncing around divisions enough that the Giants never see him in inter-league. This is…irrational at best. I know, intellectually, that it was the fault of the rules, not the fault of Cousins. But, while it might be the right thing to do, I can’t honestly say that I can entirely disconnect Cousins from the situation.

If I can’t turn Cousins into a unrelated piece of this in my own mind, who am I to expect that Brian Sabean, someone  much, much closer to the whole thing than I am, do so? For those of you who can truly, truly look at this whole thing objectively, kudos to you. But I don’t think you are most people.

This is all to say, that while I disagree with Sabean, I don’t fault him for saying what he did. If Major League Baseball had decided to ban Cousins I would be angry with them. If Bud Selig had made these comments I would be angry with him. Their job is to be even-handed, and objective, and fair.

Brian Sabean’s job is to be general manger of the San Francisco Giants. His responsibilities are not to Scott Cousins and the Marlins, but to Buster Posey and every other player that has or will wear orange and black. Perhaps he stepped over a line. Perhaps he embarrassed the organization or hurt the cause for banning these collisions. If the last is true, then he truly did make a mistake. If not, then he did what he thought he had to do to keep the issue out in the open (there’s still a rule change to be made, after all) and stand behind 25 guys rather than pander to the media.

Meanwhile, in the midst of an over-blown controversy (admittedly helped along by the last 400 words), the rest of Sabean’s comments have gone unnoticed. And they seem far more important than any few words on Cousins.

I know he wants to catch. I know this is a horrific experience for him. He’s in a lot of pain right now. It’s psychologically difficult for him to rationalize this, so that decision is way up the line…He went through a tremendous experience, maybe moreso mentally than physically. And he’s going through a hell of a time physically, with phantom pain we’re trying to … get under control, he’s not in a real good housing situation we’re going to have to get him out of, because stairs and how he needs to get around, so there’s a lot to get around here.

Buster Posey is hurting. Badly. His ankle is shattered, he’s had the idea of never playing again brought to the forefront of his mind, and he’s soon to be a father. This is scary. For Buster himself. For his family. For his teammates. For Brian Sabean.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Christine permalink*
    June 3, 2011 2:45 pm

    The only thing I’m worried about with Sabean’s comments (and I don’t agree with all of them, but that’s kind of beside the point)is how it might affect the clubhouse. Not all of the players feel this way, I don’t think. Cody was one of the players who texted Cousins right away, telling him he did nothing wrong. Freddy is represented by Cousins’ agent. I just don’t want there to be a divide or unnecessary drama in our clubhouse to mess with the chemistry that we rely on.

    That being said, the clubhouse has already taken a huge hit with the lost of Buster Posey.

    And all of that being said, I almost didn’t say it, because it seems kind of irrelevant. Buster is in pain. He is in terrible physical, mental, and emotional pain. All that matters is that he heals. That’s all I’m going to care about anymore.

    • June 4, 2011 7:08 am

      I hope, as bad as this may sound, that the stress of losing Buster is a bigger issue than their feelings on Cousins and that they rally together around that and ignore any other issues.

      That said, exactly as I said in my post last night, the fact that Buster is hurting in so many ways is the only thing I want to talk about right now. I think we’re all pretty much at that point, and I’m glad.

  2. NotABandwagoner permalink
    June 3, 2011 10:55 pm

    I agree; the issue has been beaten to a pulp. However, it seems that too often analysts, writers, and other random people have spread the words of Sabean, which were said on our own KNBR, mind you, around and acted as if Sabean is out to get Cousins and wants him banned from the Major Leagues. Honestly, this is the first rational explanation I’ve heard from anyone on the issue, so thanks for that. Sabean is not supposed to be a passive guy who just shrugs and says “whatever. It’s all good” when his players are taken out (I don’t think it’s even a question in anyone’s mind that Cousins very well COULD have slid and taken his own lane to the plate); he is supposed to be the Giants GM, their biggest fan, someone who will support his players at all costs.

    So many people argue that this same play happens all the time in baseball. They’ll bring Pablo and Andres last year trying to take out some catchers, Yadier Molina getting pummeled his rookie year, and, of course, JT Snow (go figure) trying to take out Pudge way back when. What analysts always seem to skip over is the positioning of the catcher (the catcher was blocking the plate in all those situations) and the lack of options for the runner. Cousins HAD options. Thanks to him choosing the wrong one, Posey’s only option is to wait and worry.

    • June 4, 2011 7:09 am

      Well said! It really is an issue of the fact that the lane was there and he chose to go after the catcher, by his own admission.

      And Maiya is amazingly good at being rational about this stuff. More than I have been lately. I’m grateful for that.

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